The Gold Standard of Christian Behavior

Posted on April 29, 2019

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By David Ettinger

A Bold Claim
I suppose the title of this blog is a little dramatic. After all, it appears that I’m advocating one passage of Scripture above all others in the area of how Christians should conduct their lives.

This may or may not be the case. The 2-verse passage in view here is from the Book of Titus; I leave it to you to evaluate its significance. The epistle’s author, the apostle Paul, wrote: “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1-2).

Is this the gold standard of Christian behavior? Of course it’s an opinion, but I believe that if every Christian lived according to this verse, the worldwide Church would be an entity of amazing encouragement, power, and life-transformation.

Obeying Political Leaders
The “them” here is the congregation of the church on the island of Crete, but also applies to every believer, and Paul’s first command is potent.

In Paul’s day, being “subject to rulers” and “authorities” meant obedience to Rome, the pagan powerhouse which mercilessly persecuted the Church. Paul also commands believers to obey and/or pray for their governmental leaders in Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; and the apostle Peter does so in 1 Peter 2:13-14.

Now, for those of you on social media, what does the content of your Christian friends look like? What do yours look like? Sometimes I see the most hateful attitudes toward our elected officials posted on Facebook and Twitter, particularly when President Obama was in office.

Does such Christian venom of our nation’s rulers fall in line with the teachings of Scripture? I remember during the 2016 Presidential elections, a popular bumper sticker read “Hillary for Prison” – and this on many a Christian’s car.

What possible good does such behavior accomplish in sharing the love of Christ with a lost and dying world? What kind of witness does such bitter behavior exemplify? Does posting hateful political messages and displaying disparaging bumper stickers do anything for the cause of Christ? Would a believer really want to hear what you would have to say about Jesus?

Instead, the Bible’s call for our obedience to governmental authorities includes lifting them up in prayer, desiring their salvation, and supporting rather than hindering them. Scripture does not call on us to agree with everything – or anything – our leaders advocate, but we are definitely called upon to be obedient citizens.

Imagine if every Christian did what Paul commanded in Titus 3:1; how much would the political landscape change? True political change lies in prayer and obedience, not in acrimony, insults, and disparaging media posts.

And just as a coda to this section, I’ll add without expanding upon it Paul’s directive to “malign no one.”

The Positive
Accompanying the above “negative” commands are the positive mandates. Paul calls upon believers “to be ready for every good deed … to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”

Admittedly, these are a challenge for me as I am rather aggressive and confrontational by nature. Paul, however, makes no allowance for personality. The Word of God never has to conform to anything or anyone; rather, it is we who must conform to it, and it is the Holy Spirit which helps us conform.

Again, these commands need no explanation, so I call your attention to the final one: “show every consideration for all men.” “All” means “all,” and this includes those differing from you politically, religiously, in appearance, in lifestyle, and in any other way. Just imagine the impact of a Church which took these commands to heart and sought with all its might to obey them!

The Gold Standard
Is Titus 3:1-2 the gold standard of all Biblical Christian-behavior passages? I can’t say for sure, but, as I mentioned before, if every Christian lived by them, the impact we would make on the world would be extraordinary!

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